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Full text of "Alexander von Humboldt"

ALEXANDER,  VOK  HUMBOLDT.                149
And in his activity he seems like a sun of science,
which sheds its rays over the whole earth, and excites,
fertilises, and inspires science everywhere. He is in
constant correspondence and zealous commumcation
with all ministries which take any inrerest for the
advancement of science, and with all learned acade-
mies. The fortunate accident of his birth, as a son
of a wealthy and axistocratic family, his influential
position at the court of an intelligent king, are very
import-ant means in his power, for every government
is ready to serve him Avhen it would perhaps have
scarcely listened to a man of mind born in a humbler
sphere and a less favourable position. None but
Humboldt could have encompassed the earth with a
circle of magnetic observatories such as were erected
at his instance. To assist him in his investigations
on the deviations of the magnet was a point of honour
for the governments, and his wish sufficed to induce
them to raise a series of stations for magnetic obser-
vations over the entire middle of the old continent
from Pekiii to Lissabon, which have been increased
and extended since 1S40 over the southern hemi-
sphere, nearly to the extreme limits of the southern
polar circle.
If we now glance over the life of this distinguished
man, evidently elected by Providence as the especial
medium of scientific  revelation, then his intellectual
individuality, as we sketched it in the introduction to
this biography, will be more plainly before the reader.
"We will endeavour again to paint the portrait in its
universal features.    He was pre-eminent in so many
branches   of science  for  infusing  intelligibility and
lucidity into them, that one scarcely knows where to
commence.    But it may be said of him in general
that he was the first to arrange and sift the chaos of
isolated experiences of the former and of contempo-
rary ages, to place everything in its proper depart-
ment, to make it a comprehensible member of col-
lective nature.    The  anomalous was made conform-
able to rules by his critical penetration, isolated facts